Secret Service agents work under the direction of the United States Department of Homeland Security. The service consists of two groups: the Uniformed Division, which wears standard police uniforms with a special presidential shoulder patch, and special agents, who wear suits with a special pin (colors and designs vary).
The Secret Service was created in 1865 to suppress counterfeit currency. It became the official presidential-protection system in 1901, after the assassination of President William McKinley.
Most Secret Service agents concentrate on tracking counterfeit money. A small percentage of agents focus on protecting the President and Vice President (present, past and candidates), their families and certain foreign heads of state.
Very few Secret Service agents are ever shot in the line of duty. Notable exceptions are Officer Coffelt, who was killed protecting President Harry Truman, and Officer McCarthy, who was shot (but not killed) while protecting Ronald Reagan.
A college degree and a clean criminal record are required to apply to be a Secret Service agent, followed by 11 weeks of basic police training and 16 additional weeks learning about fraud detection and personal protection.
Secret service agents wear sunglasses not to hide their identities but simply to guard their eyes from sun reflection, so they are able to see their surroundings better.
There are currently 4,400 sworn agents in the U.S. working out of 50 different field offices.
- Photo Credit Doug Clayton
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